Lisa A. McCombs
4 min readSep 18, 2022



Photo by Florian Schmetz on Unsplash

“I just don’t know what to do.” I hate this statement.

Guess what, skippy, neither do I. This is my first rodeo and I would appreciate a minute (or two hundred) of your time.

What do you do when you see someone in need? Common Sense tells me an appropriate reaction is to reach out and not stand back to witness unnecessary pain and humiliation.

Unfortunately, so many people don’t know how to read a room. Let me give you a few suggestions:

Listen: I don’t have a lot to say and I don’t ask for help very often; but, there comes a point when I need to talk and I need someone to listen. REALLY listen. Turn off the TV, pull your eyes away from the phone screen, and acknowledge my words.

Ask how can you help: It only takes a minute and I’ll let you get on with whatever is so important that it can’t wait a few minutes.

SEE ME: I’m right here.

Get out of your own head. This is NOT about YOU: I hate t sound so needy, but sometimes it is necessary. You can feel sorry for me all you want, but in the end, pity isn’t helping the immediate situation. I don’t feel sorry for myself, so neither should you. I realize you are living with the MonSter also, but not in my capacity.

Notice a problem? Fix it.

Ask questions: I probably don’t know the answer, but talking it through is much more helpful than going it alone.

When at a loss, humor me. Hold my hand to show you care. Don’t assume that is a foregone conclusion.

Try it on for size. (You don’t get it until you get it.) : Several years ago I presented my book at a local library. The audience was primarily young readers. After asking for volunteers, I told one person wearing ten-pound ankle weights to march in place for ten minutes. While he marched, I asked another youngster to turn to the left in circles twenty times and then reverse direction for another rotation before trying to stand still. As my drunken participants tried to regain equilibrium, I explained how this is the way I feel most of the time.

Attend doctor’s appointments and informational events: Once again, you don’t get it until you get it. Two perspectives is better than one.

Discuss treatment options and decisions: You signed up for this journey with me, so you need to claim a space. Get on the same page so we can be on relatively equal ground.

Feel you’re not in the game? Well, so do I.

After a recent fall, my significant other happened upon me crying on the floor.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I responded with a tearful “No.”

“Oh, just checking.” Stands across the room, looking dejected before making a departure.


No, hug. No inquisition. (Oh, he asked what happened, but I couldn’t form a coherent response. Red flag?)

Two hours later and no update on how I’m feeling. So, I guess it’s okay to forget about it.

Until the next time. Is it getting old? Need a break? Tired of all my excuses for not accompanying you around town? Tell me about it. I’m not a fan either, but there is no magic transformation for me. Only YOU, the non-MSer, can change this scenario.

A MonSter letter to significant others and caregivers:

Dear unselfish individual,

If you are reading this, then you are aware of the situation. You have seen your person at his/her worst. What did you do about it?

Did you offer a leg rub? Did you prepare a snack or suggest a takeout dinner? Did you LISTEN TO THE RESPONSE?

It’s challenging caring for someone whose life changes minute by minute.


It is challenging to live in that ever-changing body.

The takeaway?

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

Lisa, Lady With the Cane